Atheists admit that if God does not exist then the universe is purposeless. The late William Provine penned that “The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life” (1). Or as Jon Casmir would agree, “There is no meaning of life. The whole thing is a gyp, a never-ending corridor to nowhere” (2). This line of thinking is not in dispute among the majority of atheists, namely the belief that universe is purposeless if God does not exist. And on the same token it is not as if atheists have swept this under the carpet either. Most atheists would say that even given that the universe is purposeless it still remains possible that we can construct a purpose for our lives. Or as Michael Shermer says, “we can develop ways to make us feel better; feeling like we have a purpose” (3).
An opponent should point out that this is quite problematic, at least for several reasons. In one lively debate philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig provides the following critique of the atheist’s claim that one can just make his own purpose in life:
“This just is to say that we can pretend that the universe exists for some purpose and this is just make belief. This is the subjective illusion of purpose. But there is on this view no objective purpose for the universe. And we, of course, would never deny that you could develop subjective purposes for your life. The point is on atheism they are all illusory. And that is why I agree with Richard Dawkins when he said, “at bottom this is an emotional question rather than a rational one.” I wish I had the courage to say that. I am convinced that people adopt atheism primarily for emotional rather than rational purposes” (4).
However, the atheist, argues Craig, further slides down the slippery slope when the inconsistency becomes apparent, “But you cannot live as if your life is purposeless and meaningless. And therefore you adopt subjective illusions of purpose to make your life livable. And that is why I not only think atheism is irrational but it is profoundly unlivable. You cannot live consistently and purposefully within the context of an atheistic worldview” (5).
1. Provine, W. 1998. Scientists, Face it! Science and Religion are Incompatible. Available.
2. Jon Casimir quoted by John Marsden in This I Believe (1995). p. 48.
3. William Lane Craig at his Best (3min: 27sec). Available.
4. William Lane Craig at his Best (3min: 30sec – 4min: 15sec). Available
5. William Lane Craig at his Best (4min: 20sec – 4min: 40sec)Available